Colombian Student & Other Visas
As already discusssed on the Colombian Tourist Visa page residents of USA, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia etc are given a tourist permit (PIP-5) stamp in their passport upon arrival into Colombia and DO NOT require a visa to enter Colombia. This "permit" allows them to stay 90 days and is extendable another 90 days. The maximum number of days you can stay on a Tourist Permit PIP-5 is 180 days in a calendar year.
So who needs a visa to enter/stay in Colombia?
- If you are a visitor from a country on the exclusion list YOU MUST apply for a visa prior to entering Colombia.
- If you are a visitor from a country that is not on the exclusion list but want to stay longer than the standard 180 days allowed on the Tourist Permit you have two options a) overstay and pay a fine or b) stay legal by obtaining a visa
- You are visiting for purposes other than tourism (eg. to work)
On 15 December 2017 Colombia revamped its Visa categories reducing them from 21 to just 3 as follows:
- V = Visitante (Visitor)
- M = Migrante (Migrant)
- R = Residente (Resident)
Visitor visa (type V): this is aimed at visitors who want to visit Colombia one or several times but not stay on a permanent basis. The validity of the visa varies from 30 days to 2 years depending on the type of activity and the person may come and go multiple times. With this visa visitors may perform, among other activities:
- airport transit (max 30 days)
- tourism (maximum 180 days continuous or 180 days in a 365 day period)
- business management, academic exchange and studies in art or trades and postgraduate courses, medical treatment, administrative and/or judicial procedures, participation in events, internships or internships, volunteering, audiovisual and/or digital production, journalistic coverage, temporary service provider, intracorporate personnel transfer, official or foreign government commercial representative, vacation-work program and courtesy (180 days to 2 years depending)
Migrant Visa (type M): for persons who wish to enter or remain in Colombia with the intention of establishing themselves, but do not comply with the conditions to apply for an "R" type visa. The visa can be valid up to 3 years depending on the situation:
- a spouse or permanent companion of Colombian national (can work)
- father or son of Colombian national by adoption (can work)
- migrant under the Mercosur Agreement (can work)
- refugee (can work)
- work contract (can work but only for the job/company/profession of the visa)
- exercise a profession or independent activity (can work but only for the job/company/profession of the visa)
- religious (can't work)
- elementary, middle, and undergraduate students (can't work)
- real estate investment in Colombia (can't work)
- retired (can't work)
Resident Visa (type R): this is a 5 year visa aimed at those person who intend to establish permanent residency in Colombia. You can work without restriction on this visa. The criteria for approval is as follows:
- a Colombian national who has previously renounced their nationality
- a mother or father of a Colombian born child
- based on investment according to certain criteria
- having achieved an accumulated period of time in Colombia (2 or 5 years depending on situation)
The government department that deals with Colombian Visas is the Cancelleria (in English: Ministry of Foreign Affairs). You can consult their website for Colombian Visa information. They also have chat and video call facilities.
How to Apply for a Colombian Visa
If you wish to apply for a Colombian visa, you can APPLY ONLINE or in person at your local Colombian Consulate or in Bogota. The Address of the Misitry of Foreign Affairs is Avenida 19 # 98-03, Edificio Torre 100, Bogotá, Colombia.
Once you have submitted your application for review the approval process should only take 4 or 5 days. If they ask for additional documentation it may delay the process an additional 30 days. Upon approval they will send you the visa by email or stamp your passport if you applied in person.
Can I work?
If you are coming for internship or work practice, you should apply for a V = Vistante Visa.
If you are in Colombia through marriage to a Colombian, come from a MEROCSUR country (Argentina, Brasil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Bolivia, Chile, Perú y Ecuador) or have refugee status you can work via the M = Migrante visa. Likewise if you have a work contract or work independently.
If you meet the requirements of the R = Residente Visa you can work without a problem.
What Visa do I need to Study?
If you are studying at a non accredited school you can do so under a normal Tourist Permit PIP-5 and don't need to apply for a visa. The 180 days restriction applies.
If you are undertaking an academic exchange program, advance art or craft training, or carry out studies other than primary or secondary studies then you'll need to apply for a a V = Visitante visa
If you're planning on taking a university level course you need to apply for a M = Migrante visa.